Al Lang Stadium
St. Petersburg, FL
Review by Gary
The stadium once named and again known as Al Lang Stadium still stands majestically overlooking Florida’s Tampa Bay. For over 60 years, six Major League spring training squads and four minor league teams called this venerable ballpark home.
Al Lang Stadium was built in 1947 at the site of an older facility known as St. Petersburg Athletic Park. It is named in honor the former mayor of St. Petersburg who was instrumental in bringing minor league and spring training baseball to the city in the early 20th century. Lang and city officials created an incentives package that covered travel expenses and other amenities, which drew in the city's first spring training tenant, the 1914 St. Louis Browns. The club trained at Coffee Pot ballpark just north of the current site of Al Lang Stadium.
The longest tenured residents of the stadium were the Mets (1962–1987) and Cardinals (1947–1997), who shared the ballpark as their spring training home and faced one another numerous times in yearly Grapefruit league action. The last occupant of Al Lang Stadium as a baseball venue were the Tampa Bay Rays, who played their last spring training ballgame at Al Lang Stadium on March 28, 2008.
A unique concrete cantilevered overhang shades many of the seats from the afternoon sun. The grandstand faces the southeast, giving almost every seat a view of the St. Petersburg harbor and Tampa Bay beyond where the left field wall once was. Now the same view can be seen beyond the home soccer pitch of the United Soccer League’s Tampa Bay Rowdies. Since the Rowdies moved to the facility in 2011, Al Lang Stadium has been permanently reconfigured to better host soccer.
The stadium has been renovated a few times, most notably in 1976, when it underwent a major reconstruction, expanding its capacity to 7,227. Al Lang’s original outfield dimensions were (LF-CF-RF) 309’-400’-309’ in 1949 and expanded to their final configuration of 330’-410’-330’ in 1995.
In 2015, Rowdies fans were welcomed into the fully renovated Al Lang Stadium for the first time with the entire stadium painted to reflect the Rowdies’ green and yellow team colors, which is the only drawback to this grand old facility. Thankfully, the owners of the Rowdies graciously kept up the wonderful plaques and markers memorializing Al Lang and the teams that brought baseball to the Tampa / St. Pete area.